After the rollercoaster that was round 5 I’m very cautious about making predictions for this weekend. We saw some fantastic rugby, and this year the competition seems tighter than it has in a long time. That said, I’m still not game to tip against any New Zealand sides.
Crusaders vs Bulls
After successive losses the Crusaders will be looking to get their campaign back on track at home in Christchurch. The Bulls have also had a rough few weeks, and have a history of fading out of games away from home. The Crusaders remain a powerful team, despite a heavy injury toll, and should be too strong for the Bulls.
Rebels vs Sharks
On the surface this one feels like a no brainer. The Sharks are a long way from home and haven’t shown anywhere near the potential that their squad has. The Rebels, meanwhile, have looked like the pick of the Australian rugby sides so far and will be smarting after succumbing to the Waratahs blitzkrieg attack last Sunday.
The Rebels, however, have only had 5 days to recover from a game played in 40 degree heat. I’ll still tip the Rebels to bounce back after last week, mainly because so far no Australian side has lost to a South African one. The Sharks also lost to the Brumbies last week, who are far inferior to the Rebels.
Sunwolves vs Chiefs
The Sunwolves have looked like a much improved side this year, while the Chiefs have largely stood still. On the other hand, it’s still the Sunwolves versus a Kiwi side. Chiefs by plenty in an attacking rugby masterclass.
Hurricanes vs Highlanders
This will be my pick for game of the round. The Highlanders are undefeated, while the Hurricanes are incredibly difficult to beat in New Zealand – especially in Wellington. The star power in the Hurricanes backline should get them over the line, however – just.
Stormers vs Reds
As the Stormers showed last week, their form on the road is meaningless when they play at Newlands. They are an incredibly difficult team to beat on their own turf, and the Reds having to fly over from Argentina via London won’t help.
On the other hand, the Reds have a track record this year of grinding teams down and finding a way to win. I don’t think it will be enough this week though.
Lions vs Jaguars
This result will depend on which Jaguars team shows up. Will it be the one that shocked the Waratahs for their only loss of the season, or the one that lay down to be trampled by the Reds forward pack? On their day the Argentinian team can beat anyone, especially at home, but those days are rare. The Lions should win comfortably – but this could be a very unpredictable finish to this weekend’s rugby.